It was no checkers and only wreckers for the four Hendrick Motorsports cars this weekend at Michigan. This was the first time since 2005 that Mr. Hendrick had his entire fleet finish outside of the top-25 once the Checkered Flag flew.
Hendrick’s bad luck started early when Jeff Gordon was caught up in the spinning No.51, driven by Bobby Labonte. Labonte lost control of his car and Gordon zigged when he should have zagged. Gordon’s incident happened on lap-6 and left him multiple laps down after extensive repairs to the No.24. Gordon finished the day 39th which dropped him five spots to 16th in points.
The next Hendrick driver to have the bad luck fall on them was the No.5 of Kasey Kahne. Kahne was leading the field when his car broke free and slammed into the outside wall in Turn 2. A fire immediately ignited inside the car and thankfully Kahne was able to get out uninjured.
“I would say it was a tire that went down, but I don’t know for sure,” said Kahne, who finished 38th and dropped four points positions. “I just was going into the corner and then it’ ‘boom’ and turned right went straight into the wall.
After two of their cars dropped out of contention at Michigan, it was looking promising for Dale Earnhardt Jr and Jimmie Johnson; Jr even made it a point to lead a few laps in the race, showing fans that he still has it. But it was while he was out front that things went sour for Dale Jr.
Less than 30 laps after Kahne hit the wall, Earnhardt had taken the lead and looked like a contender for the win. He led 23 consecutive laps before his engine dropped a cylinder. A few laps later, Earnhardt was smoking and heading to the garage. His 37th place finish would drop him three sports to seventh in points.
And then there was one. Jimmie Johnson had never won at Michigan but Sunday looked like it might have been his time. Johnson had led multiple laps during the course of the 200 laps and was chasing down eventual race winner Greg Biffle for the lead with just a few laps to go. With just 5 laps to go, Johnson’s car takes a hard right turn and slaps the outside wall. Johnson limps around to pit road with an apparent flat tire; his possible race-winning car now sitting 28th at the checkers.
Johnson’s disappointing finish was the worst he has had this season and he now sits just 31 points ahead of Carl Edwards in points.
After a bazaar and eventful day for Hendrick Motorsports, the organization has four cars to repair and its worst showing as an organization since 2005. On to Sonoma, all four teams are hoping to forget Michigan and are looking forward to turning right.